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History of Engagement Rings - Part 2

By Tony on 6/17/2016

Engagement ring history

We looked at the engagement rings and it's origins in the first part of this blog series. We looked at how the ancients used rings as a business agreement more than love and we learned about the first diamond engagement ring. If you missed the first part of this topic, you can find it here. In this part we are going to pick up where we left off and talk about the modern engagement ring that we all know and love!

The Modern Engagement Ring

While the gimmel rings of the 16th century started to fade, the popular posy rings of Shakespeare's time were becoming more and more popular. These rings were exchanged at the altar and often were engraved with poems for the lovers. While this popularity was during the 1600s we don't see the modern diamond engagement ring to much much later. While rings were alway very popular the rings that we know now were not popular until 1930's. The big leader of this trend however, was America.

The arrival of the diamond engagement ring in America did not start until 1840s and were extremely uncommon until well after that. Part of the increase in popularity was the discovery of the mines in Cape Colony in South Africa in 1867. This discovery increased the diamond supply and lead to the De Beers Mining Co. we are all familiar with. By the 1890's we started to see the diamond ring increase in popularity so much that you could see diamond engagement rings and wedding rings available in mail-order catalogs.

We don't see the popularity of the modern diamond engagement ring really take off until after the Great Depression. In 1940, we saw in America that the engagement rings were selling in department stores. During this time, we see the "double-ring ceremony" (where both men and women take rings) increase from 15% of all marriages to 85% [1]. These double ringed ceremonies were an anomaly and really caught traction when a priest asked if he was approved by the Catholic church to have both rings were blessed. Prior to this, only the brides ring was blessed in the Catholic church as it was the only ring in the ceremony.

Then in 1947 America would read and hear the words "A diamond is Forever" and see many of hollywood's biggest stars wearing their rings on and off the screen. Followed by the classic novel, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and the infamous cracker jack ring.

While the popularity of styles of engagement rings comes and goes and change over time, understanding some of the history and importance of the engagement ring is always beautiful. We hope we helped to give a good background of where your engagement ring comes from, and where the customs come from. Be on the look out for our next part of this series where we would like to tackle and show examples of the different trends of engagement rings in the recent past. From the popularity of yellow gold to the platinum or white gold settings we see more often now. If you have any questions for us, please feel free to reach out! And see our engagement ring guide for a basic step by step process of what to look for in an engageent ring purchase!

Sources: [1] - GIA.edu
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